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As Detective Chief Inspector Alan Banks walked along the


disused railway track, he couldnt help but imagine two young
lovers kissing on the footbridge ahead, shrouded in smoke
from a steam engine. All very Brief Encounter. But the Age of
Steam was long gone, and it wasnt love he was walking
towards; it was a suspicious death.
Banks made his way towards the group of white-suited
crime scene investigators standing outside a tent, lit from
inside, just beyond the bridge. Other CSIs were working on
the bridge itself; its rusted metal sides were so high that Banks
could see only their heads and shoulders.
The crime scene lay half a mile south of the village of
Coverton, which stood at the very limits of the North York-
shire county line, at the tip of the Yorkshire Dales National
Park across the A66 from Barnard Castle. The only way to get
to the body, Banks had been told over the phone, was to walk
along the old railway tracks or through the woods that ran
parallel to them about ffty yards to the east.
The railway ran dead straight, a narrow, shallow, U-shaped
valley cut into the landscape. The embankments were steep
and grassy on both sides, and while there were plenty of
weeds growing in the unkempt grass, no one had dumped
prams, bicycle frames or refrigerators there, as people did in
the more urban areas. The rails and sleepers had been taken
up long ago, and the track had been paved over, though
many of the fagstones were broken or uneven, and hardy
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weeds insinuated their way through the cracks. It seemed a
long half mile to Banks, especially with the rain and wind
whipping at him down the man-made valley. The only
human dwelling Banks saw on his journey stood to his right,
just before he got to the bridge: a small square cottage at the
top of the embankment.
When Banks got to the outer cordon, he showed his warrant
card to the offcer on duty, who lifted the tape for him and
handed him a hooded overall and shoe covers. Awkwardly, he
took off his raincoat and put on the protective gear over his
clothes. This area was where the CSIs and other offcers not
required at the immediate scene waited until they were needed.
Only essential personnel were given access through the inner
cordon to inside the tent itself, and as few people as possible
were allowed there at a time.
Already, the CSIs were busy fxing up extra lights as the
early November morning was overcast and dull. Banks poked
his head inside the canvas fap and saw the Crime Scene
Manager, Stefan Nowak, as immaculate as ever, and dry,
along with Dr Burns, the police surgeon, and Detective
Sergeant Winsome Jackman, all in their white coveralls. Peter
Darby, the crime-scene photographer, crouched by the body
taking photographs with his beat-up old Pentax, his state-
of-the-art handycam in its waterproof case hanging over his
shoulder. All except Darby turned to greet Banks. Suddenly,
the tent seemed crowded, and its humid interior smelled like
a wet dog.
Banks saw the crumpled body of an emaciated old man
wearing a grey anorak and blue jeans lying on his back. His
neck lay at an impossible angle, one arm was bent in the
op posite way to which it should have been, and a sharp knife
of bone protruded through the denim on his inner right thigh.
His clothes were wet with rain. Banks wondered how long he
had been there.
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Children of the Revolution
OK, Banks said to Winsome. What happened? Run me
through it.
Dog walker found the body, Winsome said, without refer-
ring to her notebook. Or rather, her dog did. Eight thirty-seven,
to be precise.
Banks checked his watch. It was fve past ten. Thats very
precise.
Shes a retired schoolteacher. Probably used to checking
her watch every now and then to see when the lessons due to
end.
Banks laughed. I never realised how the teachers might
have hated classes as much as we did. I used to believe they
existed just to bore and terrorise us.
Children often take a very self-centred view of the world.
Her names Margery Halton, sir, came a voice from just
beyond the tents entrance fap. Sorry for interrupting, but
Im PC Barry Kirwan, Coverton beat manager. I was frst
offcer on the scene. Margery knows me. She came straight to
my house, and I followed her up here and saw who it was,
then I called it in.
Banks walked back and ducked under the fap into the
open. Where is she now?
One of the community support offcers took her home, sir.
Bit of a state.
Im not surprised, said Banks. Who was he?
Names Gavin Miller, sir.
Local, then?
PC Kirwan pointed. Lived in that old signalmans cottage
just up there, other side of the bridge. You must have noticed
it on your way here.
Bank turned and looked at the squat cottage he had just
passed. Bijou would be a kind description. What do you know
about him? What did he do for a living?
Dont know much about him at all, sir. Not much of a
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mixer. Kept himself to himself. Bit of an odd duck, or so the
locals thought. Reclusive. Didnt get out much. I dont know
how he made his living.
Next of kin?
No idea, sir. I mean, he lived alone. I suppose there might
be someone . . .
How long had he been living there?
He bought the place three or four years ago. It had been up
for sale for quite a while. The market was very sluggish, and I
think he got a good price. As youll see, though, its not very
big.
Banks glanced at the embankment and the paved track. So
whats the story of this place, PC Kirwan? Whats the lie of the
land? How frequently is it used? Whats access like?
We used to have a branch line here until Dr Beeching
closed it in the early sixties. That was before my time, of
course. Anyway, since then, its just fallen into . . . well, you
can see for yourself. We get a few walkers in season, when the
weathers good were not too far from the Coast-to-Coast
and maybe a few railway buffs, but not so many in these sort
of weather conditions. Its a pretty secluded spot, as you can
see, and it doesnt really lead anywhere. He pointed beyond
the tent. Keep going south and youll end up at a collapsed
viaduct about a mile or so further on. Lark Woods are to the
east, above the embankment, and theres a woodland footpath
that winds through the woods by the river to the back of the
village car park. You cant get a car within half a mile of here
unless you really know the area. There are unsurfaced tracks
and lanes, access to the signalmans cottage, for example, but
theyre not generally known, and none of them lead directly to
or from Coverton, or anywhere else for that matter.
So he could have been lying there undiscovered for a
while?
I suppose so, sir. But not for days, I wouldnt say.
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Children of the Revolution
All night, though?
Easily.
Banks thanked PC Kirwan, went back into the tent and
turned to Winsome. Whats the story here?
PC Kirwan phoned in to report a suspicious death and
suggested we get some cover out here quickly, just in case
there was any evidence left that needed preserving. When I
got to the scene, it was pretty obvious that our man hadnt just
dropped dead from a heart attack while he was out jogging,
so . . . well, guv, you can see for yourself.
Peter Darby stood up. Done for now, he said, and left the
tent.
Banks turned to Dr Burns. Any idea what were dealing
with, Doc?
Burns pointed beyond the open tent fap to the bridge. It
would seem from his injuries, and the position of the body,
that he fell off the bridge. I dont think hes been moved, but I
havent had a chance to examine him fully for post-mortem
lividity yet. Dr Glendenning will be able to give you a more
accurate answer later, when he performs the post-mortem. As
you can see, the sides of the bridge are quite steep, most likely
for the beneft of the farm animals that cross, or used to cross,
so an accidental fall is extremely doubtful. Its about a thirty-
foot drop, quite enough to cause the kind of injuries his body
has sustained on the paved track. Broke his neck and several
other bones. Hed lost a lot of blood from a head wound, too.
And from the leg fracture, of course.
All caused by the fall?
Dr Burns paused. Possibly. Most.
Ah-ha, said Banks. Not committing yourself ?
Not yet.
Is there any reason to suppose that someone pushed him?
Banks asked. Maybe hit him over the head frst? Or are you
leaning towards suicide?
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You mean, in which case why did I bring you all the way
out here on such a miserable Monday morning?
Something like that.
Well, theres nothing defnite yet, Burns admitted. All Im
saying is that I doubt it was an accident. If he didnt jump,
then someone had to have thrown him over the edge.
Would it be a far enough drop for him, or someone else, to
be sure that it would kill him?
No, said Burns. He could have got off lucky and simply
broken a few minor bones. Falls are diffcult to predict. Weve
all heard of someone who survived a long drop. But he landed
in a very unfortunate manner. As I said, it was the broken
neck and the fractured thigh that did for him. The femur
severed the femoral artery. Very nasty. He bled out. It would
have been quick, and in all likelihood, with the broken neck,
he would have been unconscious, maybe even paralysed, by
then. He probably wouldnt have felt any pain, just a sort of
growing numbness.
Banks raised his voice so that PC Kirwan outside the tent
could hear. Is there any way to get down from the bridge to
the tracks without jumping?
Yes, sir, said Kirwan. Its a bit steep, but you can scramble
down the embankment on either side. In this weather youd
probably end up sliding most of the way on your arse, sir. And
theres a slightly better path to the cottage, a few steps cut into
the earth.
So, if it was deliberate, our killer probably knew that he
could get down and fnish off his victim if the fall didnt do it
for him? Even if he had to slide down on his arse?
Yes, sir, said Kirwan.
Any sign of a suicide note? Banks asked the doctor.
Nothing.
Anyone checked out the cottage?
Not yet, sir, said Winsome. We were waiting for you.
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Banks glanced towards Nowak. What do you make of it,
Stefan?
I dont know, Nowak said in his impeccable and slightly
pedantic English, the trace of a Polish accent discernible only
now and then in certain cadences. This weather makes it
rather diffcult for us. Were working on it, but weve found no
fngerprints or footprints on the bridge so far, as one might
expect if hed hauled himself over the side and jumped, but
the rain could easily have washed them away. It was quite
heavy at times overnight. But the sides are rusted metal, while
the base is wooden planks, so in any case wed be lucky to fnd
anything after a nights rain.
How much do you reckon he weighs? Banks asked.
About eight stones at a guess, Burns answered.
Banks thought for a moment, then asked Nowak, Any
chance of collecting much trace evidence from the scene?
Theres always a chance, Nowak answered, even in this
weather. But Id say no to fnger- or footprints, unless some-
one came by the woodland path. The trees might offer some
protection from the rain there.
Tyre tracks?
Same. The rain would soften the ground, and some impres-
sion might remain, but its been coming down pretty heavily all
night, and the odds are that it will probably have washed away
anything laid down from before. Well be doing our best, though.
I dont doubt it. Blood? DNA?
Possibly. Diluted, diffcult, but perhaps not washed away
entirely.
I see youve already bagged his hands, Banks said to the
doctor. Anything there? Skin under a nail, perhaps?
Hard to say from a cursory glance, said Dr Burns. He was
a nail biter.
Banks stood for a moment taking it all in, listening to the
thrumming of rain on the canvas. The tent was leaking. A few
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drops of water trickled down the back of his neck. He should
have put his hood up, he realised too late.
The man could have jumped, of course. Murders were rare
in this isolated part of the county. On the other hand, if he had
been intent on suicide, why choose a method that, according
to Dr Burns, could in no way guarantee success, and might
very well involve a great deal of pain, even paralysis?
Any idea how long hes been lying here? Banks asked.
How long hes been dead?
It was a chilly night, said Dr Burns, and that would have
slowed down the processes of rigor mortis and post-mortem
decay in general. But from what I can see, the paving stones
are quite dry under the body. And there are no obvious signs
of animal activity. Id estimate overnight, somewhere around
twelve hours, give or take.
When did it start raining here?
Yesterday? About midnight, sir, said PC Kirwan from
outside.
Lets say for the sake of argument that he died between ten
and midnight last night, Banks said. If he didnt come here to
kill himself, what was he doing here on a lonely footbridge not
so far from his front door with someone who wanted to kill
him?
Maybe he didnt know the person wanted to kill him, sir,
Winsome said. They could have just had a disagreement and
started fghting spontaneously. Or maybe he got waylaid. He
had his anorak on. He was prepared for going out.
Good point. But, the bridge is south of his cottage. Not far,
admittedly, but why would he walk even just a few yards south
to the bridge if he was going to the village? PC Kirwan said
there was a defnite path from the cottage down the embank-
ment. That would obviously have been the route hed use,
unless he fancied a walk through the woods. And where might
he have been going if he hadnt been heading for Coverton?
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Banks turned to PC Kirwan. You said theres nothing further
south except a ruined viaduct. Any ideas?
No, sir, said Kirwan. It doesnt make sense. He should
have no need to walk south and cross the bridge just to go
north. And theres nothing but miles of open country. A few
farms, of course.
What was he carrying in his pockets? Banks asked.
I was wondering when youd get around to asking that,
Winsome answered. She picked up a plastic evidence bag
from the bin beside her. Mostly, just the usual. Its all nicely
bagged, sealed and signed. Wallet containing one credit card
and driving licence, expired, in the name of Gavin Miller,
along with one fve-pound note and some receipts from the
Spar grocery in Coverton and Bargain Booze in Eastvale.
Mobile phone, keys, a small penknife, loose change, a packet
of Silk Cut and a cheap butane lighter. Then theres this. With
a slight touch of theatricality, she pulled out a bulky envelope
and showed its contents to Banks. From what he could see, it
was a stack of ffty-pound notes, the new ones, with Boulton
and Watt on the back. Cash, Winsome went on. Theres fve
thousand pounds here. I counted it. Not something youd
need for a walk in the woods, Id say. And thats why we
dragged you out here on a miserable Monday morning, sir.
Banks whistled. Indeed. I suppose we can rule out a
mugging, then?
There was no garage attached to Gavin Millers cottage,
though there was a paved space beside it that was the right
size and shape for a small car. But there was no car. Banks
made a mental note to check whether Miller owned one. The
bridge was too narrow for even the slimmest of sports cars to
pass over, but the rough laneway widened in front of the
cottage, and Banks assumed it probably joined up eventually
with one of the local unfenced roads, as PC Kirwan had
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suggested. It was the closest thing to a road out of there, at any
rate. Anyone who used it to get to Gavin Millers house would
probably have had to know of its existence in advance, though,
which would indicate that if it had been used, there was a
chance the assailant had known Miller and had visited him
there before. But such speculation was for the future, when
the CSIs had given Banks more to work on, and when he
knew for certain, one way or the other, whether Miller had
committed suicide or whether another person was involved.
At a quick glance, Banks could see no signs of a vehicle having
travelled the track recently.
The postage-stamp garden had been given over to the
growing of herbs. Banks had been cultivating a similar patch
himself over the summer, and he recognised thyme, dill, pars-
ley, rosemary and chives. The key turned easily in the lock,
and it was a relief to get inside out of the rain. Banks and
Winsome were still wearing their protective suits and gloves
so they could make a quick search of Gavin Millers house
without contaminating the scene before the CSIs came to
turn the place over.
Banks fumbled for the light switch and found it to the right
of the door. A shaded bulb in a ceiling fxture illuminated a
small living room, with just enough space for a couple of well-
worn maroon armchairs, a small bookcase, a freplace
complete with tiled hearth and mantelpiece, and a desk by the
window, which looked out through grubby, moth-eaten lace
curtains over the footpath and the felds to the south, with the
railway embankment, woods and bridge just visible to the left.
The cream wall-to-wall carpet was marked by two large wine
or coffee stains in the shape of Australia and Africa, the wall-
paper was peeling in places where it reached the ceiling, and
a few abstract prints in cheap frames hung on the rose-
patterned walls. No family photographs stood on the mantel
or on the desk. The chilly room smelled of stale smoke, as if it
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hadnt been aired or vacuumed in a while, and the layer of
dust on the mantelpiece and desk bore this out. Banks remem-
bered that Miller had a packet of Silk Cut in his pocket.
The desk had clearly been used recently, as the dust had
been disturbed, and the computer that sat there wasnt dusty
at all. The power light was on, screensaver showing a swirling
pattern of psychedelic designs, and a squat black Wi-Fi hub
stood on the window ledge, its blue lights steady. Beside it sat
a green tin ashtray advertising John Smiths Bitter, in which
were a number of stubbed-out cigarettes, the ends of the flters
stained brown. Banks eyed the computer greedily. It might
contain information that would help him fnd out what
happened to Gavin Miller, but he knew better than to touch
anything. When you fnd a computer at any scene connected
with a possible crime, you dont check the users browsing
habits; you leave it for the experts.
Banks and Winsome searched through the desk drawers
and found stationery, mini-USB drives, old backup CDs,
chargers and various connecting wires. In one of the side
drawers Banks found an envelope full of old photos: a pop
festival of some kind, the stage way off in the distance; a
picket-line scuffe, police in riot gear; a student demo; a city
Banks didnt recognise, tall buildings glinting in the sun; a
group of people standing outside a modern building; more
groups at restaurants and on beaches; mountains and a shel-
tered bay; a deep blue lake refecting the fr trees on the hills
that surrounded it, snow-capped mountains in the back-
ground. That was it: some black and white, some colour, no
portraits, no dates, no names, no indication whether Miller
had taken them.
The books were mostly paperback British and European
literary classics, from Robinson Crusoe to Ltranger. There
was also a shelf of literary criticism and general non-fction:
Sartres Being and Nothingness, Kierkegaards The Sickness
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Unto Death, F.R. Leaviss The Great Tradition. Heavy reading,
Banks thought.
A door with a broken handle led into the kitchen, beyond
which was a tiny downstairs toilet and washbasin. The kitchen
was surprisingly tidy, dishes washed and standing in the rack
beside the sink, all surfaces wiped clean. There wasnt much
food in the fridge except for some wilted broccoli and leftover
chicken tikka masala in a plastic container. Still, Banks wasnt
one to speak. Anyone who took the trouble to look would fnd
the same in his fridge as often as not, except he didnt bother
with the plastic container. The green box by the door was full
of empty wine bottles cheap wine, Banks noticed mixed in
with a few whisky bottles, also cheap brands often on sale at
Bargain Booze. It looked as if Miller preferred to stop in to do
his drinking. If he was as reclusive as PC Kirwan had suggested,
he probably did it alone.
Up a fight of narrow, uncarpeted stairs were two bedrooms
and a bathroom, complete with a small walk-in shower. A
cursory inspection of the bathroom cabinet showed only the
usual: razor, shaving cream, Elastoplast, and a selection of
over-the-counter medications such as paracetamol, Alka Selt-
zer and acid reducers. There were also two prescription
medications: an old bottle of heavy-duty painkillers, still half
full, and a more recent one of Ativan, sublingual. Banks could
see no signs of a toothbrush, toothpaste or deodorant. One
bedroom was large enough to hold a double bed, wardrobe
and dresser, and it was clearly where Miller had slept. The bed
was unmade, strewn with discarded underwear, socks and
shirts. An MP3 player lay on the bedside table next to a glass
of water, in which a dead fy foated, and a digital clock radio.
Banks turned on the radio. It was tuned to Radio Two.
Winsome shivered. A bit parky in here, isnt it?
The radiators not turned on, said Banks. He must have
been counting his pennies.
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With fve grand in his pocket?
Banks shrugged.
The second bedroom seemed to be Millers den, similar in
a way to Bankss entertainment room at Newhope Cottage.
There was a cheap laptop computer and the obligatory fat-
screen TV hooked up to a fne surround-sound system, which
was also connected to a turntable. Most of the equipment was
fairly old, Banks noticed, at least three or four years, which is
old for electronics. Gavin Millers music collection began and
ended with the sixties and very early seventies, and most of it
was on vinyl. There was plenty of Soft Machine, Pink Floyd
and Jimi Hendrix, and a lot of Grateful Dead, some of the
LPs still plastic-wrapped.
A Dead Head, Banks muttered.
Pardon? said Winsome.
Banks pointed to the rows of albums, CDs, DVDs and the
blow-ups of the American Beauty and Live Dead album covers
on the wall. Its what they call people who are fanatical about
the Grateful Dead. It used to refer to people who followed the
band around from gig to gig. How old was Miller? Did you
check?
Fifty-nine, Winsome said.
Jesus Christ! said Banks, shocked that Miller had turned
out to be close to his own age. He looked to be in his
seventies.
Thats what a hard life will do to you, sir.
Banks gazed at her curiously, wondering if that was one of
her cryptic warnings. Hes about the right age, then, he said
fnally. For the Grateful Dead and all that.
Are you one, too, sir? A Dead Head?
Banks laughed. Me? No. I just like to listen to them some-
times. And dont be cheeky. Im not ffty-nine, either. It
certainly doesnt seem as if anyone has broken in here, does
it? There werent any damage to the door, and the electronic
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stuff is all intact. Its old, mind you, but it might fetch a few
quid at a car boot sale. Some of these records are probably
worth a bob or two to a collector.
How many burglars have you met whod know a valuable
LP from a hole in the ground? said Winsome.
Maybe they get a better class of burglar around Coverton?
Winsome gave him a look. More likely, if anyone did break
in, they were after something specifc and not interested in a
stack of old vinyl and posters. And they were clever enough to
enter and leave the place as it was.
Banks glanced at the DVDs and saw that Miller was a
ser ious flm buff. His shelves housed an extensive collection
of foreign art-house flms from such directors as Tarkovsky,
Almodvar, Fellini, Kurosawa, Truffaut, Ozu and Godard,
along with a stack of Sight & Sound magazines, right up to the
previous months issue.
Winsome gestured towards the flm collection. You know
any of these, sir? Youve watched them?
Ive watched some of them, yes, said Banks. Im quite
partial to a bit of Mizoguchi and Chabrol every now and then.
Cant say I know them all, though.
But does any of it mean anything? Winsome asked. I
mean, as far as the investigation is concerned?
The flms? I dont know, said Banks. But I doubt it very
much. They just happen to be the sort of thing that Gavin
Miller liked, along with the books. He was clearly a bit of an
artsy type. I suppose they could just as easily have been
Rogers and Hammerstein musicals or Disney cartoons. Im
just trying to get a feel for him, really, Winsome, work out
what sort of bloke he was, whether he was the type to commit
suicide if there is a type where he might have got fve
thousand quid, what he might have been intending to do
with it. Now the sixties vinyl, that might mean something.
There could be a drug connection. The Grateful Dead were
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involved in the early acid tests, and their followers are well
known for taking psychedelics. LSD especially.
Maybe it was all about drugs, then, Winsome said. The
money in his pocket and all. I mean, theres no suicide note,
not one that weve found yet anyway.
Not every suicide leaves a note. And if he was doing a
drug deal, and if someone robbed him of his stash, why
didnt the killer go down the embankment to the track and
take back his money? Five grands a fair whack of cash to
just leave behind. I cant imagine any dealer, or buyer,
doing that.
Dunno, sir. Maybe he thought he heard someone coming
and scarpered? Or he saw that Miller was dead and didnt
want to risk leaving any more forensic evidence?
Possible. Though PC Kirwan says the track is hardly ever
used, especially at this time of year, and at night. Anyway, its
just an angle to consider.
Banks poked through some of the drawers and found,
behind a pile of cassette tapes, an old Golden Virginia tobacco
tin. When he opened it, he saw a packet of red Rizla cigarette
papers, some silver paper wrapped around about a quarter of
an ounce of a sandy coloured, crumbly substance, which
smelled suspiciously like hash. Also, in a plastic bag, were two
small blue tablets, unmarked.
It looks as if weve found the drugs, Winsome said.
OK, Banks said, handing her the tin. Im heading back to
the station. Madame Gervaise will want an update. You stick
with Stefan and his mob while they do a proper search of this
place. Give them this to get analysed and let them know that
drugs may be on the agenda. There may be more hidden away.
Theyll know the usual places to search. Ill set Gerry Master-
son on fnding out all she can about Mr Gavin Miller. I want
his life story. Cradle to grave.
* * *
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So let me get this straight, Area Commander Catherine
Gervaise said. You dont know whether Gavin Miller was a
suicide, a perpetrator who ended up being a victim, or the
intended victim from the start?
No, Banks admitted. How could we? We need to know a
lot more about him, his background, what made him tick, any
reasons he might have had for wanting to end it all. DC
Mastersons working on it now.
But you dont even know whether he was buying or selling
drugs, whether any transaction had been carried out or not?
Thats right. All we know is that hes dead under suspicious
circumstances, there were drugs in his house, and he had fve
thousand pounds in his pocket.
And you dont know whether he was deliberately killed or
died as the result of a fght? Whether it was murder or
manslaughter, in fact.
The side of the bridge was too high for him to fall over
without being lifted or jumping.
Well, thats something, I suppose. Lets keep the fve grand
out of the media for the time being, if we can. Ill take a press
conference at the end of the day, if anybodys interested, that is.
Even with the possibility of suicide, theres bound to be a
few vultures already, surely? Anyway, well keep the money
under wraps. It shouldnt be a problem. Banks scratched his
temple. Id be the frst to admit that we need a lot more to go
on before we can even get started, but if drugs are involved,
Im sure itll be quickly and easily settled once we get a list of
his mobile calls and the contents of his computers.
I hope so. A quick result would go down nicely in these
penny-pinching days. Hows DI Cabbot doing?
Annie? Shes fne. Shes wrapping up another case. Ill
bring her in if it turns out I need her on this.
But Banks didnt think Annie was fne. She had changed
since she had been shot over a year ago, become more
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Children of the Revolution 1,
reckless, more secretive, harder, even. She was more diffcult
to talk to, and their conversations ended up as arguments, or
at least minor quarrels, far more often than was healthy. He
was worried about her, but she wouldnt let him close.
DC Masterson working out all right?
DC Geraldine Masterson was their latest detective
con stable, who had just come out of her probationary period.
Gerry? Yes. Shes doing well. She could do with a bit more
confdence, but that often comes with experience. Shes got
a damn useful set of skills, but I dont think we let her out
often enough to build her confdence. No problems to report,
though.
Good.
Enjoying the coffee from Gervaises espresso machine,
Banks fgured that the penny-pinching hadnt yet reached as
high as the chief supers budget for little luxuries. He felt a
subtle shift of gear during one of Gervaises lengthy pauses.
Have you ever thought about retirement at all, Alan? she
asked after a few beats had passed.
Banks was taken aback. Retirement? Surely Ive got a
couple of years left yet, havent I?
Yes, yes. Of course you have. But the way things are going,
with budget cuts and all, who knows? Its something thats
being encouraged in a lot of cases.
Including me?
Not specifcally, no. Not yet. But Im just letting you know
that its an option. Youve done your thirty. Plus. Youd have a
decent pension.
Its not a matter of pensions, said Banks. You know that.
What would I do?
Gervaise smiled. Oh, Im sure youd fnd something, Alan.
Bit of gardening, perhaps? Maybe take up a musical instru-
ment? You like music, dont you? Learn to play the piano.
Some charity work, helping out in a care home or a hospital,
Robi_9780771076305_2p_all_r1.indd 17 7/8/13 5:00 PM
18 Peter Robinson
feeding the poor in a church basement, something like that?
Get a life?
Banks shifted in his chair. Am I missing something? Youre
starting to make me nervous. Is this a roundabout way of tell-
ing me something I dont want to hear?
Gervaises smile was inscrutable. Is that what you think?
Does the subject of retirement make you uncomfortable,
Alan?
As a matter of fact, it does. It makes me cringe.
Gervaise paused again. More coffee?
No, thanks. Im jittery enough as it is. All this talk about
retirement.
Thats just one option. Have you ever thought about
promotion?
You must be joking? Me? Surely Im unpromotable?
Youd be surprised. Youve made a few mistakes over the
years, a few enemies, true enough, though many of them have
moved on. Youve got a lot of infuential and powerful people
on your side, too.
Even since that business with MI5?
Even since then. When did we ever dance to MI5s tune?
I didnt exactly notice the cavalry hurrying around the
bend to my rescue when they had me over a barrel.
Well, you have only yourself to blame for that. You didnt
tell anyone what you were up to, did you? Thats your greatest
failing. But despite your maverick tendencies, youve still got
a lot of support where it counts.
What exactly are you trying to say?
Its simple, really. Gervaise spread her hands in a gesture
of openness. Nature abhors a vacuum. Since I was made
chief superintendent, theres been a vacuum. It needs to be
flled. Homicide and Major Crimes really needs a detective
superintendent to run it. I cant think of a better person than
you for the job. Gervaise had recently been promoted, and
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Children of the Revolution 1
had also taken on the role of area commander for the Eastvale
Local Policing Area.
Detective superintendent! Hang on. Wait a minute. You fat-
ter me, but
Its not fattery. Think about it, Alan. Thats all I ask. Yes,
therell be more paperwork, more responsibility, more meet-
ings, more crime stats and budgets to fret over, more of the
sort of stuff you hate. And youre going to have to tread a bit
more carefully, avoid stepping on too many toes. But on the
other hand, therell be more money and more holidays, and
nobodys going to stop you working the way you do, even if it
means getting your hands dirty now and then. This wouldnt
be a move designed to stop you from doing your job the way
you do it best. Some very high-up people have spent a lot of
time discussing this.
I thought my ears were burning a lot lately. Youre saying I
would still be able to handle cases as I see ft?
Within reason, same as always. If you mean can you get
out there and work in the feld, then the answers yes. Itll
just mean more unpaid overtime catching up with budgeting
and reports and the rest of the paperwork.
Banks thought for a moment. He had never been greedy,
but more money meant more CDs and DVDs, maybe even a
better sound system, and a good turntable like Millers to play
the old vinyl he had recently brought up from his parents
house in Peterborough. More money meant getting central
heating installed in the cottage, maybe even a lick of paint
here and there. More holidays would mean the occasional
bargain weekend in Paris, Rome or Barcelona. But he knew
better than to get carried away with himself. Nothing came
without a price tag. He had a vision of himself so consumed
by paperwork and budget meetings that he simply had no
time left to get out and do the job he was best at.
What do you think? Gervaise asked.
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zc Peter Robinson
I honestly dont know what to say.
Gervaise stood up and leaned forward, resting her palms
fat on the desk. You dont have to make up your mind right
at this very moment. Give it a few days. Remember, though,
that as a superintendent, you wouldnt have to retire until
sixty-fve.
Ill think about it, I promise, said Banks.
Good man, beamed Gervaise. I knew you would. Lets
give it until this Miller case is settled and take it from there,
shall we? By then, with any luck, youll have yet another feather
in your cap. If you keep your nose clean, that is.
Banks put his espresso cup back in its saucer and stood up
to leave. Whatever you say, maam.
As usual these days, it was dark by late afternoon. As there
were no other developments, and Winsome and the CSIs were
still at the scene, Banks took the fle Gerry Masterson had
prepared on Gavin Miller home with him shortly before six
oclock and picked up some fsh and chips from Helmthorpe
High Street on his way. He hung up his raincoat on the rack
by the door and carried his briefcase and dinner down the hall
to the kitchen, where he made a pot of tea and sat down to eat
and watch the evening news on the TV above the breakfast
nook. It was the usual depressing mix of weather, politics and
fnancial doom.
After he had put the dishes in the dishwasher in a few
days he would have enough to make it worthwhile running
the damn thing he poured himself a glass of Layers, an
Aussie red blend he had come to enjoy lately, then he went
into the entertainment room to select the music.
As he searched through his collection, he found himself
drawn to the Grateful Dead. He hadnt played any of their
CDs in a long time. He had listened to the Dead a lot more
when he was younger, and had even seen them live once at the
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Children of the Revolution z1
Empire Pool, Wembley, in 1972. He remembered being
impressed by Jerry Garcias guitar playing. More recently, he
had been enjoying Norma Watersons version of Black Muddy
River. No doubt their music would make an appropriate
soundtrack for his reading. He didnt have much to choose
from, as it turned out, so he picked American Beauty.
Banks liked the sound of rain on the conservatory roof, so
he decided he would sit out there to read over Gerry Master-
sons preliminary notes on Gavin Miller. She had been most
embarrassed and apologetic that she had so little to show him
when he had dropped by the squad room to see her. The
whole business was going far too slowly, she said, and the
notes she had were very sketchy and rough. Usually, she would
have much more information by now. Banks told her not to
worry and to stick at it.
He took his wine and briefcase through and settled back
in his favourite wicker chair. With the reading light on, he
couldnt see a thing in the darkness beyond the windows
except his own refection and that of the spines of the books
on the shelves behind him. The rain was softer now, a gentle
hiss rather than a heavy drumming. He remembered read-
ing, or seeing in a flm somewhere, that W.C. Fields couldnt
sleep unless it was raining, and that he lay dying for some
time, until the rain started. Then he died. Banks thought he
might like to die to the sound of rain, not in the icy shackles
of winter or the bright warmth of a summers day, or with
the coloured autumn leaves drifting down, but in spring,
perhaps, an April shower falling on the glass roof and
windows of his conservatory. It wasnt a morbid thought, but
quite a comforting one, as was the sound. He sipped some
wine and, with Box of Rain playing softly in the back-
ground, began to read the few pages of the hastily written
preliminary notes that DC Masterson had been kind enough
to photocopy for him to take home.
Robi_9780771076305_2p_all_r1.indd 21 7/8/13 5:00 PM
zz Peter Robinson
DC Mastersons account was very bare bones, though it
covered a lot of ground, Banks noticed, and as he read, his
imagination flled in some of the blanks. Gavin Miller had
been born near Banbury, Oxfordshire, on 29 November 1953,
almost sixty years ago. His father had been a teacher at a local
comprehensive school, which Miller had attended, and his
mother a housewife. Miller was an only child and grew up in
a cottage at the end of a long leafy lane on the edge of town,
with no close neighbours.
Miller had shown some academic promise at school, though
he didnt quite get the qualifcations necessary for Oxford or
Cambridge. He did well in his A-levels, however, and ended
up reading English at the University of Essex, which he
attended from 1971 to 1974, leaving with a second-class
honours degree. After a period spent working to save up as
much money as he could, Miller disappeared to Canada in
1977 to study flm and literature at Simon Fraser University
near Vancouver. From what Gerry Masterson could work out,
Miller seemed to have remained over there for the next six
years. That would explain some of the photos of cityscapes
and mountain landscapes they had found in Millers drawer,
Banks thought. He had seen similar images of Canada before.
Gerry admitted that she had lost track of his movements
during the four-year period after he graduated from Simon
Fraser from 1979 to 1983 the lost years and she needed
to contact consulates and immigration sources, registrars
and administrative assistants. It was a time-consuming job,
even if you were looking for fresh information. Miller turned
up again at home in Banbury in 1983. He would have been
pushing thirty by then, Banks calculated, and this was not an
era when the children stayed at home as long as they do
these days.
So far, Gavin Miller seemed like so many others, a young
man who had not quite fulflled his potential, or hadnt had as
Robi_9780771076305_2p_all_r1.indd 22 7/8/13 5:00 PM
Children of the Revolution z
much potential to fulfl as he thought he did. He also didnt
seem to have grown up, in some ways, but remained stuck in
the interests and tastes of his youth. Even though he was ffty-
nine, his small cottage was full of existentialist philosophy books
and shelves of psychedelic vinyl from an earlier time.
The rain had stopped now, though it still streaked the
windows. A fne day was promised for the start of tomorrow,
but you could never trust the weather forecasts these days.
The only thing you could be certain of was that rain would
come again, sooner rather than later.
The Grateful Dead were singing Ripple, which Banks
thought might be the kind of song he would like to have played
at his funeral. Its airy mysticism rather appealed to him, the
idea of life as a ripple in still water, when no pebble has been
tossed into it. And the melody and harmonies were beautiful.
He sighed. Enough thoughts of death and rain and ripples in
undisturbed water. What was it about today that had sent his
mind spinning in such a direction?
He realised that it was probably something to do with the
similarities between himself and Gavin Miller. But just how
alike were they? True, they had shared some tastes in music
and flms, much of it the same as they had enjoyed in their
youth, but was that so strange? They were close to the same
age, had grown up in with the same pop culture the Beatles,
James Bond, the Saint, Bob Dylan, and so on. Bankss dad still
listened to Henry Hall, Nat Gonella and Glenn Miller, music
he had frst heard during the war. There was nothing odd
about a taste for the past. Some people still enjoyed Abba and
the Bay City Rollers.
Banks also had to admit that he often preferred stopping in,
drinking wine and listening to music alone to going down to
the local on a Saturday night. So what did that make him?
Newhope Cottage might be bigger and better furnished
than the signalmans cottage Miller had lived in, Banks
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z Peter Robinson
thought, but it was just as isolated, and Banks had deliberately
chosen to live there after his divorce from Sandra. Had Miller
been running away from something, too, and had it caught up
with him? He could have simply been running away from
himself, of course, and when he found he couldnt, had
committed suicide. But Banks doubted it. Something didnt
sit right about his choice of method, not when there were
more than enough pills in his bathroom cabinet to do the job,
and fve thousand pounds in his pocket when he died.
Banks returned to what little remained of DC Mastersons
notes. Almost a year after he had returned from Canada,
Miller had begun a series of jobs in local colleges, where he
had toiled away in obscurity for twenty years or more, teach-
ing general arts, media studies, flm and English literature in
such places as Exeter, Grantham and Barrow-in-Furness,
never staying in any one place for any length of time, until he
arrived at Eastvale College in 2006.
Miller left the college in 2009, gave up his rented fat in
Eastvale and made a down payment on the signalmans
cottage near Coverton. It didnt appear that he had attempted
to fnd another job. Gerry had noted that the person she talked
to on the telephone at the college, Trevor Lomax, head of the
department in which Miller had taught, seemed a little cagey
when he found out who she wanted to talk about. He made a
mental note to get someone to go out there and talk to Lomax
the following morning.
Miller had married only once, as far as Gerry could discover,
and that had lasted six years and had ended in 1996. His wife
had remarried two years later and gone to live in New Zealand.
Gavins father had died three years ago, and his mother had
entered a private care home near Oxford, which took up the
money from the sale of the cottage outside Banbury, and more
or less all the savings that the Millers had accumulated over
the years. When Miller died, he had been unable to meet his
Robi_9780771076305_2p_all_r1.indd 24 7/8/13 5:00 PM
Children of the Revolution z
last two mortgage payments, the utility companies had been
hammering at his door and his credit card was maxed out to
the limit.
The desperate fnancial straits Gavin Miller had been in
towards the end of his life also made Banks think there might
be something more to the drugs angle. People often saw drugs
as a quick way of making a big return on an investment.
Someone so desperate for money might turn to crime. Five
thousand pounds was a lot of money to a man in Millers
position, and it would have got him out of the immediate hole
he was in, at the very least, with even a little left over.
Blackmail was another possibility, of course, but most
victims dont kill their blackmailers, who have usually set
things up in such a way that if anything happens to them, the
cat gets let out of the bag anyway. No one had broken into
Millers house, for example, to see if there was anything
incriminating left behind there. If Miller had been blackmail-
ing someone, it was hardly likely that he would hand over all
his evidence for fve thousand pounds. Blackmailers always
have something in hand, and they always come back for more.
Putting the fle aside, Banks massaged his temples and
rubbed his eyes. It was getting late. American Beauty had
fnished some time ago, and the silence was all-embracing.
Once in a while, he heard a light breeze sough through the
trees, or a distant car on the Helmthorpe road, but apart from
that, nothing. He topped up his glass, went into the entertain-
ment room to put on Live Dead, and went outside. There was
a little bulge in the wall beside the beck, and he enjoyed stand-
ing there, or even sitting on the wall when it was dry, to
contemplate the night and enjoy his last drink of the evening.
In the old days, he used to love having a smoke out there, too,
but those days were long gone.
Already there were stars showing between the grey rags of
cloud, and the air was full of that lovely fresh earth smell you
Robi_9780771076305_2p_all_r1.indd 25 7/8/13 5:00 PM
z6 Peter Robinson
get after a good country rainfall. It was still a little chilly, but
he wouldnt be staying out for long. He walked over to the wall
beside Gratly Beck and leaned at his usual spot overlooking
the terraced falls, all the way down the daleside to the slate
roofs of Helmthorpe High Street and the church tower below
the old mill, the felds and the cemetery. The water was high,
and the beck had turned into quite a torrent after the rains.
The falls were fast and noisy, flling the air with a fne cool
spray. Banks often enjoyed falling asleep to the sound of the
rushing water as he lay in bed.
To his left stretched the dark woods, raindrops dropping
from leaves as the wind shook them, and tapping on the leaves
below. The River Swain was a silvery squiggle along the fat
valley bottom about a mile away. The strains of Garcias lyr ical
guitar playing on Dark Star wove into the sounds of the beck
and the dripping leaves as Banks leaned there thinking how
much he loved the place, and how retirement might be not
such a bad idea after all.
He thought about Gavin Miller for a while longer, the haggard
and broken body that looked like that of an old man, then tossed
down the rest of his wine, shivered and went back inside.
Robi_9780771076305_2p_all_r1.indd 26 7/8/13 5:00 PM

Children of the Revolution

BY PETER ROBINSON


A disgraced college lecturer is found murdered with 5,000 in his
pocket on a disused railway line near his home. Since being dismissed
from his job for sexual misconduct four years previously, he has been
living a poverty-stricken and hermit-like existence in this isolated spot.
There are many suspects, mostly at the college where he used to teach,
but Banks, much to the chagrin of Detective Chief Superintendent
Gervaise, soon becomes fixated on Lady Veronica Chalmers, who
appears to have links with the victim going back to the early '70s at the
University of Essex, then a hotbed of political activism. When Banks
suspects that Lady Chalmers is not telling him the whole truth and
pushes his inquiries a bit too far, he is brought on the carpet and
warned to lay off. He must continue to conduct his investigation
surreptitiously, under the radar, with the help of new DC Geraldine
Masterson, while DI Annie Cabbot and DS Winsome Jackman continue
to rattle skeletons at Eastvale College. When the breakthroughs come,
they are not the ones that Banks and his team expected, and everything
turns in a different direction, and moves into higher gear.

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Copyright 2013 Eastvale Enterprises Inc.
All rights reserved. The use of any part of this publication reproduced, transmitted in any
form or by any means, electronic, mechanical, photocopying, recording, or otherwise, or
stored in a retrieval system, without the prior written consent of the publisher or, in case
of photocopying or other reprographic copying, a licence from the Canadian Copyright
Licensing Agency is an infringement of the copyright law.
Library and Archives Canada Cataloguing in Publication
Robinson, Peter, 1950-, author
Children of the revolution / Peter Robinson.
ISBN 978-0-7710-7630-5
I. Title.
PS8585.O35176C45 2013 C813.54 C2013-900683-4
All characters in this publication are fctitious
and any resemblance to real persons, living or dead, is purely coincidental.
Cover image: Robert Swiderski / Trevillion Images
Cover design: Kelly Hill
Printed and bound in the United States Of America
McClelland & Stewart,
a division of Random House of Canada Limited
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